Newport council pushes back marina rent hearing

Newport Beach residents hoping for a decision on a contentious marina lease template at Tuesday's City Council meeting will have to wait at least another week.

Further discussion of the proposal will be pushed to a special meeting, tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 16.

Two weeks ago, when the Newport Beach City Council seemed poised to approve changes to the template that would raise rents commercial marina operators pay to the city for use of state-owned tidelands, waterfront business owners unleashed a barrage of criticism during a lengthy public comment session.

Instead of revisiting the topic Tuesday, the rent adjustment was moved to its own meeting.

Meanwhile, City Manager Dave Kiff said in a newsletter that officials and marina operators are "ironing out" more details.

By drafting the new lease template and creating an adjustable marina index, the city aims to raise rents to a "fair market level," meaning closer to amounts charged by commercial marina owners who do not operate from publicly owned tidelands.

Business owners who would be affected by such changes raised concerns about the proposal, saying that giving the city power to adjust rents would effectively create a monopolistic lease.


Sober Living public hearing

The council at its meeting is expected to hold a public hearing as part of an annual review of the zoning agreement between the city and Sober Living by the Sea Inc.

According to a staff report, the annual review found that the group home operator has "made a good faith effort" to comply with the terms of a 2008 legal settlement agreement.

In 2008, the city adopted its Group Residential Uses ordinance, which led to a number of lawsuits, Kiff said, one of which was filed by Sober Living.

The city and Sober Living settled and developed the agreement, wherein the operator would try to achieve some of the intended effects of the ordinance, such as decreasing secondhand smoke and noise in areas near the homes, Kiff said.

According to the report, there has been a 63% decrease in the reported number of client beds citywide. As of July 30, Sober Living reported, the company has space for 75 clients, which is down by 15 from the same time in 2011.


Pension transparency

In other business, the city is expected to approve a response to the Orange County Grand Jury regarding a report on increasing public access to information on city employee pension costs.

The 2011-12 report said the Bell city employee compensation scandal stirred an interest in local government transparency. It recommended that local governments improve their websites to provide "complete cost transparency of precise salary and benefits at all levels, in an easy-to-read table format."

Newport's response said the city generally agrees with the findings in the report and will take steps in the coming months to make employee compensation information more readily accessible.


Fee waiver for bike ride

The council is also expected to waive event fees for the Oct. 28 Memorial Bike Ride, which will raise money for a Bike Safety Improvement Fund, in the wake of two cyclist deaths last month. In that same agenda item, the city will authorize the creation of the fund, as well as commit to matching donations three-to-one up to $450,000from the city.

Twitter: @jillcowan

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